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How to Deep Clean a Garbage Disposal Yourself

The short answer is that cleaning your garbage disposal regularly will keep your plumbing appliance running smoothly and smelling fresh in the kitchen. The process takes only about 10 minutes, and should be performed weekly to keep things pristine.

Neglecting your garbage disposal may lead to plumbing issues or foul odors that will permeate through your living space. No one wants to live alongside these smells, much less have guests over while they're around.

With the right DIY cleaning methods, you can keep your sink drain clean, maintaining a pleasant aroma in your home. However, if you've never cleaned your garbage disposal, you likely have several questions.

Where do I start? What products should I use? Is it safe to use hot water while cleaning or should I stick with cold water?

This short guide will show you safe to use methods when cleaning your garbage disposal.

How Often Should My Garbage Disposal Be Cleaned?

Clean your garbage disposal weekly to remove leftover food and residue. This will keep it free of strange odors or plumbing issues.

When you're consistent in maintaining your sink's drain line and monitoring what you put down your garbage disposal, you'll only need to clean it 1-2 times per month. Sounds nice, right?

Signs You Should Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Cleaning a garbage disposal can be a daunting task. However, there are some clear signs you need to give it some TLC.

Persistent odors

Food particles can cause bacteria build-up, causing bad smells. Cleaning thoroughly and often will help eliminate odors.

Poor performance

If the power mechanism is non-functioning, there may be issues that can trip the circuit breaker or overheat the system. Take a look at your disposal model and get in touch with a team of local plumbers that can help.

Inexplicable clogs

Food scraps, grease, or harmful materials accidently thrown down the spout, may be causing blockages affecting the motor.

Unusual noises

If you hear any unusual humming or buzzing noises coming from the opening, it may be a sign of a broken grinding chamber.

Steps to Safely Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to successfully clean your garbage disposal.

  1. Turn Off The Power

The first step to properly clean a garbage disposal is to power it down. Completely disconnecting it from the power source ensures your safety and helps clean it thoroughly.

Sometimes, you may need to shut down the power breaker box or unplug any third-party items from the outlet. Before beginning any maintenance, make sure there is no electricity being supplied to the plumbing systems.

  1. Remove The Trapped Particles

Access a flashlight and aim it down the drain. This will let you see any trapped food particles. There may be food or objects that are clogging the grinding chamber.

If you find any trapped particles or objects, use a set of long-nosed pliers or tongs. Basically, any tool that will reach deep into the drain will work. You can use your hands to remove obstructions only if it's absolutely necessary.

If you choose to use your hands, be sure you wear gloves. This will help maintain a sanitary disinfecting process. While wearing gloves, carefully reach around the blades of the grinding chamber. Run the water and allow it to pour over the drain stopper. This will wash away any residue.

Remove all the small pieces from the piping and leave no debris behind for disposal.

  1. Clean The Interior Disposal

Make sure to give the interior drain disposal a good scrub using some dish soap. Rinse the sponge frequently until you pull up no more gunk.

You can also use a long-handled brush, scrub possessing a narrow head, or an old toothbrush you don't mind throwing away afterward. After breaking down any built-up grime, use warm, soapy water to rinse off the brushed head.

Once you complete the brushing, reconnect the power to the garbage disposal and flush out the drain with some dish soap. Then, fill the garbage disposal with a few cups of ice and mix with one cup of rock salt.

Run warm water over the ice cubes and salt as it grinds in the chamber. The ice cubes and cup of rock salt help scrape the inside of the grinding chamber and dislodge buildup.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Fresh

There are a few ways you can keep your appliance smelling fresh. Here are our favorite.

Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is a great over-the-counter defense against bacterial build-up. It can be sprinkled or dissolved into mixtures to help reinforce the disinfecting. 

When mixed with vinegar, it can be a great way to combat indefensible muck that has been collected over the months. 

To use, sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the drain opening. Mix it with white vinegar and allow the baking soda and vinegar to sit for 10 minutes.

Power on the disposal and allow hot water to wash away the vinegar and baking soda mixture.

Read More: Baking Soda & Vinegar Drain Hacks to Clean a Clogged Drain

Using Citrus Peels — A Natural Remedy

You can also use more natural remedies to help fight against odors after cleaning your hard working appliance.

Citrus peels are a great alternative method to freshen up the disposal. Chop up a handful of lime, lemons, oranges, and other citrus ingredients.

Simply place the handful of peels in the grinder, while cycling through a few strips at a time. Use cold water to clear away the muck collected by the peels and enjoy the citrusy scents!

Useful Tips for Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals require constant care. Here are some last minute tips to consider.

Smelly Garbage Disposal — Avoiding Bad Odors

To prevent a smelly garbage disposal, avoid grinding more than 1 cup of food waste at a time.

To clean, use the baking soda and vinegar method. If you're out of vinegar, substitute it with warm water. This will help flush out the grime and loosen gunk on the blades.

Don't Grind Certain Foods

There are many foods that are difficult to grind. These materials also make it difficult when trying to clean a garbage disposal.

Double-check your food waste to make sure it does not contain these items:

  • Egg shells

  • Coffee grounds

  • Plastic

  • Larger animal bones

  • Starchy or sticky foods

  • Fibrous vegetables

  • Certain types of grease

These items can create an obstructed disposal, damaging the motor and cause the garbage disposal to leak. Once you clean the blades and the grinding chamber, you'll want to rinse the splash guard.

Maintain the Garbage Disposal Splash Guard

The rubber splash guard can get caked with debris, and if you neglect this cleaning process, it can cause permanent damage to the rubber flaps.

Bleach is a great choice for disinfecting these rubber flaps. When you clean a garbage disposal, take a soapy sponge and give the splash guard a good scrubbing. With the right cleaners, you can remove muck build-up from the food scraps.

Afterward, use a sink stopper to plug the drain. Then, you can pour bleach or a similar cleaner to clean out the rest of the sink.

If you're washing disposal parts over the sink, you'll want to scrub away the remaining particles left in the sink.

Trust ARS/Rescue Rooter For Any Garbage Disposal Issues

There you have it! How to properly clean a garbage disposal.

While you need to maintain and monitor what's thrown inside the disposal, oftentimes even the best cleanings can't eliminate the root of the issue.

When this happens, it's time to get in touch with a team of plumbers. ARS/Rescue Rooter can resolve any plumbing repair issue whether it's a clogged sink, malfunctioning motor, or persistent leak.

Get in touch with us to schedule a plumbing service.

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